Stocks were little changed on Friday as investors booked profits after a four-day rally, but optimism European leaders were on the right track in tackling the region's debt problem kept losses in check.
The S&P 500 <.SPX>, up about 4.6 percent so far this week, could post its best weekly performance since early July.
Bank stocks were the top losers, with the S&P 500 financial index <.GSPF> down 1.4 percent. Utility stocks <.GSPU> were the top gainers, up nearly 1 percent.
The news yesterday that central banks are offering dollar liquidity to European lenders is regarded as being the start of an accelerated process in addressing the debt crisis. It was like lighting a match, said James Dailey, portfolio manager of TEAM Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
With the Fed meeting next week, (the Europe news) sort of served as a threshold. Investors are now thinking that we have entered a process toward additional monetization.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, at a meeting of European finance ministers in Poland, urged them to leverage their bailout fund to better tackle the debt crisis. Based on comments by officials, it appeared that Geithner and the Europeans did not see entirely eye-to-eye.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 0.99 points, or 0.01 percent, at 11,432.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 2.11 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,207.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 0.20 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,606.87.
On Thursday the world's leading central banks agreed to boost short-term dollar funding for banks, easing investor fears about the European financial system.
Meanwhile, in the latest U.S. economic data, consumer sentiment inched up in early September, but Americans remained gloomy about the future, with a gauge of expectations falling to its lowest level since 1980.
In company news, Research In Motion Ltd
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)